Psalm 43:5

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Cross found on all donkeys' backs?

Some donkeys (often called Christian donkeys) have a narrow strip of dark hair that runs down their backs and each of their shoulders. These markings are in the shape of a cross. Like the color traits of other animals (such as zebras), we don’t know exactly why these donkeys have this cross. But, it does show the wonderful variety among God’s creatures.

There is legend that the crosses on these donkeys appeared after Jesus rode one into Jerusalem (read Matthew 21:1-11). There is no evidence that this is true. The dark stripe in the form of a cross was a trait in these donkeys long before Jesus lived. However, the fact that Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem is very important. It fulfilled a prophecy that was spoken 500 years before Jesus lived, and showed He was the Messiah (read Matthew 21:5 and Zechariah 9:9).

Dear Prayer Partners

Please remember the following needs and requests in prayer:

1} President Obama and his advisors

2} the men & women serving in our armed forces and their families

3} Bobby- a missionary in Haiti who was flown back to the states with a broken back

4} Holly- recently gave birth to a son

5} Hailey- has Hodgkin’s lymphoma and is unable to work due to it

6} Margo- recovering from a stroke

7} Dan- has Leukemia & an inoperable brain tumor, the tumors in his stomach and lung have been removed successfully

8} Christine- recently gave birth by an emergency C-section and her new son is in critical condition

9} Living Waters A/G looking for a youth pastor with a vision to reach the youth

10} Dennis- having problems breathing

11} The Holm Family- death of a loved one from cancer

12} The DeRien Family- death of a loved one

13} The Fraley family- death of a loved one

14} Eugene- is battling cancer

15} Schimmica- husband is having an affair

16} Kevin- has some serious dental problems and is recovering from emergency oral surgery

17} Faith- is hospitalized after a heart attack and partial amputation of right foot, has a serious infection in heart, lungs and kidneys and is back on dialysis

18} Chantella- is expecting her 1st baby in the spring

19} Julianne- having difficulty with her pregnancy

20} Marc- family problems

21} Tom- problems with weight control

22} Achan- has HIV, an infection in her lungs and gall bladder is shutting down

23} Rick- has bulging disc in his back

24} Noah- a toddler having complications from heart surgery, has a very high fever

25} Frank- fighting depression

26} Gloria- hospitalized after passing out at work

27} Chaplain Sam- recovering from eye surgery

28} Chaplain Jay- preparing for a missionary trip to Uganda next year

29} For all the unspoken and personal requests that people have

30} For us at Highway Mission Outreach that we will continue have the doors opened to share the gospel and the needed finances to carry out the ministry of the mission and as we plant The Cross-Roads Chapel

31} For Michael Frankland, Gill Ainsworth, Mark Ainsworth, Tracy Ainsworth, Tony Wood, Eileen Walsh, and Elaine - break down strongholds in their lives

"Hold Us Together" - Matt Maher

Opening Our Hearts to God

Psa. 19:14 - May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable before You, O Jehovah, my rock and my Redeemer.

Acts 13:22-23 - And when He had deposed him, He raised up David for them as king, to whom also He testified and said, I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man according to My heart, who will do all My will. (23) From this man's seed, God, according to promise, brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus.

~~~~~ Words of Ministry ~~~~~

Both of the above passages are related to David. Psalm 19:14
is a prayer of David, while Acts 13:22-23 is a description of
David. In David's prayer, there are the “words of my mouth”
and the “meditation of my heart,” or the thoughts of the
heart. He prayed that he would not only be kept in his words
outwardly, but also be acceptable to God in his thoughts
inwardly. The words of the mouth are an expression of the
thoughts of the heart. The heart is the root problem.

Whether or not one outwardly says the right words is not the basic problem. Whether or not one has an outward attitude in his speaking that is right is also not the basic problem. The
thoughts of the heart are the basic problem. The thoughts of
the heart constitute the root problem and cannot be overlooked. David did not merely pray, “God, may the words of my mouth be acceptable before You.” He added to the prayer, “May the meditation of my heart be acceptable before You.”

David's prayer was for the thoughts of his heart to be
acceptable before God. This is why Paul could later testify
that David was a man according to the Lord's heart. A person
who is according to God's heart allows God to touch his heart. If you will not allow God to touch your heart, it will be hard for you to be one who is according to His heart.

Many Christians ask, “Why is it wrong for me to do this? Why
is it wrong for me to say this? Why is it wrong for me to
express myself this way?” Brothers and sisters, whether or
not you are doing the right thing, saying the right thing, or
expressing yourself the right way is not the real problem.

Rather, is your heart right when you are doing such a thing,
saying such a word, or expressing yourself in such a way?
What is the condition of your heart? What is the condition of
the root? Even if you are right in every outward thing, it is
still possible for your heart to be wrong. God is touching the condition of your heart and asking about it. He allows many winds and waves to beat upon His children for this very reason.

He uses these things to touch your heart and to expose the condition of your heart.

Why was God harsher in O.T.? - by John Piper

Thy Redeemer

By C.H. Spurgeon

"For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called" (Isaiah 54:5).

JESUS, the Redeemer, is altogether ours and ours for ever. All the offices of Christ are held on our behalf. He is king for us, priest for us, and prophet for us. Whenever we read a new title of the Redeemer, let us appropriate Him as ours under that name as much as under any other. The shepherd's staff, the father's rod, the captain's sword, the priest's mitre, the prince's sceptre, the prophet's mantle, all are ours.

Jesus hath no dignity which He will not employ for our exaltation, and no prerogative which He will not exercise for our defence. His fulness of Godhead is our unfailing, inexhaustible treasure-house. His manhood also, which he took upon him for us, is ours in all its perfection. To us our gracious Lord communicates the spotless virtue of a stainless character; to us he gives the meritorious efficacy of a devoted life; on us he bestows the reward procured by obedient submission and incessant service. He makes the unsullied garment of his life our covering beauty; the glittering virtues of his character our ornaments and jewels; and the superhuman meekness of his death our boast and glory. He bequeaths us his manger, from which to learn how God came down to man; and his Cross to teach us how man may go up to God. All His thoughts, emotions, actions, utterances, miracles, and intercessions, were for us.

He trod the road of sorrow on our behalf, and hath made over to us as his heavenly legacy the full results of all the labours of his life. He is now as much ours as heretofore; and he blushes not to acknowledge himself "our Lord Jesus Christ," though he is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. Christ everywhere and every way is our Christ, for ever and ever most richly to enjoy. O my soul, by the power of the Holy Spirit, call him this morning, "thy Redeemer."

Send us your prayer requests:

Send us your prayer requests:
(by clicking on the link above)

FREE Book: “Desiring God” by John Piper

Prison Ministry:

On Monday evenings, I have the unique priveledge of visiting the Greenville Detention Center. Scripture, bible lessons, tracts, bibles, Daily Breads, bible studies, testimonies, and prayers are shared. Please keep these men in your continued prayers as we continue studying Paul's letter to the Romans: Jonathan, Lenita, David Anderson, Luke Elmore, Eric Hall, Leslie Mashburn, Keith Rollins, Billy, Jared Rhines, Quinton Brown, Jeremiah Hendrix, Chris Osbourne, Jermain Cheech, Quincy Massey, and Leo Clarence.

Thank you for your support and continued prayers for these new believers and this ministry!

In His vineyard,

We Shall Worship the Lord!

By John Piper

Do you delight more and more in the majesty and glory of God? Does your heart incline to worship God more consistently and intelligently and earnestly and intensely today than it did five years ago?

Is your love for your brothers and sisters in Christ abounding more and more so that you use your gifts more and more effectively to strengthen their faith and stir them up to love and good works?

And do you feel a greater burden for the lost? Are your prayers for unbelieving relatives and friends more consistent and earnest? Are your efforts to give a reason for the hope that is in you more bold, less ashamed? Are you becoming a world Christian with a zeal for the final mission thrust of the church to reach the hidden peoples?

If you can answer yes, we are making progress as a church. If not, we are failing in those areas. But at least we have goal and a definite Biblical theology behind it.

But it is not new. Listen to the way another pastor and teacher describes the meaning of membership in the church:

Membership, therefore, involves a personal obligation to promote the objects of the body as expressed in the covenant.

These objects are three:

1. The social, united worship of God...
2. The perpetuation and diffusion of the gospel...
3. The sanctification of its own members...

The church, thus comprehensive in its scope, looks upward to God, outward upon the needs of a lost world, and inward to the processes of sanctification in the souls of its own members; the neglect of any one of these grand objects of its organization imperils its whole design.

This is our philosophy of ministry. The quote is from Hezekiah Harvey, who was born in England in 1821 (The Church, 1879, reprint 1982, pp.35-36.). There is nothing modern or trendy about the priorities of our church. They have been around for two thousand years. They are tried and true, and it shouldn't bother us at all that they are not new.

Over 200 Free Resources for Church Leaders:

Monday, November 30, 2009

Prosperity gospel faces Challenge: Frugal Savers

By Bob Smietana

For 40 years, the Rev. Charles Cowan has been preaching that God wants Christians to prosper. So he's not about to change the message, no matter how bad the economy looks.

That includes telling his followers that if they are faithful in giving to the church, God will reward them financially.

"We want to be sure that we are taking care of honoring God, because his Word tells us that if we honor him, he will honor us," said Cowan, pastor of nondenominational Faith is the Victory Church in Nashville.

Despite the economic downturn, the prosperity gospel remains alive and well. Pastors like Cowan or televangelists like the Rev. Creflo Dollar and the Rev. Kenneth Copeland continue to promise that financial blessings will follow donations to their ministries.

But it faces a challenge from a new austerity gospel, which says God blesses those who work hard, save their money and pay off their debts.

Believing in God's provision is common to most Christians. What makes the prosperity gospel unique is the idea that God's blessings can be triggered by donations known as seeds of faith.

That concept was taught by Cowan's mentor, the late Rev. Kenneth Erwin Hagin, along with Hagin's colleague, the Rev. Oral Roberts, two grandfathers of the prosperity gospel.

The idea works this way: A believer sows a financial seed of faith, giving it to a church or a preacher, and God rewards that seed with a monetary blessing.
On Cowan's church Web site, visitors can donate a seed of faith from $5 to $1,000 using their credit cards. The site quotes from Luke 6:38, a favorite of prosperity gospel preachers.

"Give and it shall be given unto you: good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom," the verse reads.
But the Rev. Cowan is quick to stress that giving money to God won't make you a millionaire. He believes that God will take care of faithful givers — rewarding them with spiritual and physical health, along with enough money to meet their needs. He fears that some preachers recently have taken the message too far and made faith all about money.

"I think some churches, when they teach about prosperity, only talk about money," he said. "Money has become the total focus of their relationship with God."

The Austerity Gospel

The opposite of the prosperity gospel is the austerity gospel, promoted by radio host and author Dave Ramsey.

His call-in show reaches about 4.5 million listeners daily on more than 400 radio stations, according to Talkers magazine, a trade publication. The magazine recently named Ramsey the seventh most powerful radio talker in the U.S., just behind Laura Ingraham and ahead of Lou Dobbs.

Ramsey shared his testimony at the annual Operation Andrew Thanksgiving service, held Nov. 22 at First Church of the Nazarene in East Nashville. He started by recounting how he had become a millionaire in the real estate business while in his 20s, then lost everything he had.

"I've made mistakes with zeroes on the end," he said.

Not long before his life fell apart, Ramsey says, he became a Christian. That newfound faith sustained him through bankruptcy. Rebuilding his finances was a result of his Bible studies.

In his Financial Peace University program, Ramsey tells people to go back to making money the old-fashioned way — always pay cash, never spend more than you earn and avoid debt like the plague.

The idea that financial blessings are a result of hard work and thrift is a more mainstream religious view, said James Hudnut-Beumler, dean of Vanderbilt Divinity School. Most Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims would share that belief, he said.

"Telling people to cut expenses, not go into debt — it's the anti-prosperity gospel," he said.

Ironically, the austerity gospel can lead to financial rewards, Hudnut-Beumler said. "You take the Jesus road, and stop drinking, and down the road you'll have more money."

Recession-proof Giving

He said most Christians believe that God blesses and takes care of believers, which is why prosperity gospel preachers often sound like any other preacher.

The difference is that the prosperity gospel teaches that God can be controlled.
"The prosperity gospel crosses the line by making God's blessings absolutely predictable and a matter of exchange," he said.

Still, Hudnut-Beumler isn't willing to count out the prosperity gospel. He said that in general, it is recession-proof because it offers hope to desperate people.
"When people are desperate with their situation, they will look for ways to get out," he said.

Dennis Decker, a missionary with Crown Financial Ministries, said he has seen a growing number of people who are disappointed with the prosperity gospel. Crown is a national group that runs financial classes at churches and offers volunteers who can teach budgeting one-on-one. Decker oversees their work in Middle Tennessee.
Last year, the group worked with 5,000 people. This year, it is on track to double that number.

"We call it financial triage," Decker said.

Decker says that Crown teaches people to handle money according to biblical principles. It's similar to the approach that Ramsey teaches — especially in using a budget and avoiding debt. Like Ramsey, Crown also teaches the importance of using money in charitable ways to help others. But unlike Ramsey's company, which is for-profit, Crown is a nonprofit Christian group.

Decker believes Ramsey's approach is great for getting out of debt and for teaching people to budget. But he believes it doesn't change people's basic attitudes toward money.

"We feel the purpose of money is not to insulate us from problems or to live independently but to help others and to accelerate the fulfillment of God's purposes," he said.

Hopeful in Hard Times

That kind of austerity gospel isn't completely foreign to prosperity gospel preachers.

The Rev. Cowan wants people to believe God will take care of them so they can remain hopeful in hard times. But he also wants them to use common sense, as well as faith.
"We teach our people to be wise in how they spend their money," he said. "To be sure that they take care of things that have to be taken care of before they spend anything beyond that."

Even in hard times, Cowan remains a big supporter of tithing — giving 10 percent of a believer's income to God. But he understands that people will sometimes fall short.
"We teach them what the Bible says, that the tithe belongs to God," he said. "At the same time, we realize that there are things people have to pay for — they have to pay their mortgage, they have to pay their utilities, they have to pay their car payment — we are not out in left field on that. But we teach them to honor God."